Enjoy Yourself and Have a Healthy Thanksgiving

Enjoy a Healthy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving – is a special day to give thanks for all the good things in life. However, it has also developed into a time of traditional over-indulgence. The table is filled from sunup to sundown with food – lots of food! Plates are piled high with goodies over and over again, and over eating is not only NOT discouraged, it is encouraged!

Yes, it is a celebration of abundance, with roots in the story of the First Thanksgiving when the settlers and native tribes joined together to partake in the great gifts the autumn harvest had to offer. It is indeed a joyous time for all of us who have warm homes and plenty to eat.

Even though we have an abundance of food to eat every day, instead of giving reverent thanks for that amazing gift, we seem to use this holiday to wallow in the abundance set in front of us on the Thanksgiving table. It is a fun holiday that is fully embraced by most Americans. Unfortunately, the “wallowing” can and does, cause some dietary distress and overall health issues for many people.

A study of 1,986 heart attack patients presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association in 2000 suggested that an unusually large meal quadrupled the chance of having a heart attack within the next two hours.

Therefore, this Thanksgiving, enjoy the feast without sacrificing your health.

Here are few things you can do to stay focused on good health while celebrating the holiday.

Focus on People

This is a wonderful holiday to reconnect with family and friends. Talk to the people in your life – and really listen. Find out what they have been doing, what is important to them, and how they are feeling.

We all live very busy lives. The holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving, is the perfect opportunity to slow down. Spend quality time with friends and family members. Take their hands and tell them how happy you are to have them in your life. And, maybe – just maybe –  Aunt Gertrude will finally share her secret recipe with you for the perfect pumpkin pie! All kinds of miracles can happen when you really listen and let people into your life.

Focus on Fun

A great way to reconnect with family and friends is by playing games – any kind of game will do. Try board games, card games, puzzles, video games, or some kind of sport. The focus is on the fun. Games make it easy to talk, laugh, and share something about yourself.

You can even use dinnertime games. For example: fill little cups with mints and as dinner is drawing to a close, ask each guest to share something they’re thankful for as they eat each mint in their cup. Little moments form memories; and, those precious moments flow naturally when gathered together just to have fun.

Focus on Food (Taste Every Bite)

Yes, of course we still want to enjoy the feast. But instead of building a mountain of food on your plate, take small portions and focus on the flavor and texture of each bite. Pay homage to every morsel you eat. Appreciate the effort and love the cooks have put into the meal to please their guests. They will be delighted to see you slowly nibbling on small portions of all the delicious dishes presented, rather than gobbling everything down as if it were you last  meal.

Finally, enjoy the personal benefits of knowing that your body will thank you for the care and consideration you are giving it. For those who are watching their diet, you will also be able to stay on track when you keep your portions under control.

Some guidelines to help you are providing by the Consumers Union of United States Inc. (c) Copyright 2010

  1. Don’t arrive famished. Have a snack an hour or two before.
  2. Stay away from the finger food at the hors d’oeuvres table.
  3. Eat the salad first.
  4. Use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate.
  5. Taste everything to your liking, but take small portions and resist seconds.
  6. Eat slowly, and participate in conversation.
  7. Skip the dessert, or at least go easy on it. Fruit is preferable.
  8. Limit alcohol intake to one glass of wine, and drink at least one full glass of water.

Focus on Fitness

The party is over. Tummies are full. It is time to get up and move. I know there can be an intense desire to lie down and sleep, but the indigestion and regrets are not worth giving into the temptation.

After dinner, gather up your group and take a walk around the block. Your full belly may not allow for a rousing game of volleyball, but it will appreciate a good stretch of the legs. This post-dinner walk is not only good for the digestion, it lifts spirits and brings smiles to tired faces. And you don’t feel like you sacrificed all your good exercising history with one big meal.

Just because a holiday is about abundance, doesn’t mean we have to give in to over-indulgence. Take the time to be thankful for the good things in your life. Celebrate by staying focused on those special things – enjoying the feast wisely as part of the celebration rather than the full focus of the celebration.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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